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Essential Tools Module Reference Guide


Module:  Essential Tools Module   Group:  String Processing

Does not inherit

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#include <rw/re.h>
RWCRExpr re(".*\\.doc$");  // Matches filename with suffix ".doc"

Deprecation Notice

This alternative interface is now deprecated and may be eliminated from a later release. For more information on the support of deprecated classes, please contact your Rogue Wave account representative

Use the RWTRegex<T> interface instead of this class. RWTRegex<T> provides enhanced functionality and increased performance.


Class RWCRExpr represents an extended regular expression such as those found in lex and awk. The constructor "compiles" the expression into a form that can be used more efficiently. The results can then be used for string searches using class RWCString. Regular expressions can be of arbitrary size, limited by memory. The extended regular expression features found here are a subset of those found in the POSIX.2 standard (ANSI/IEEE Std 1003.2, ISO/IEC 9945-2).

Note: RWCRExpr is available only if your compiler supports exception handling and the Standard C++ Library.

The regular expression (RE) is constructed as follows:

The following rules determine one-character REs that match a single character:

Any character that is not a special character (to be defined) matches itself.

  1. A backslash (\) followed by any special character matches the literal character itself; that is, this escapes the special character.

  2. The "special characters" are:

  3. The period (.) matches any character. For example, ".umpty" matches either "Humpty" or "Dumpty."

  4. A set of characters enclosed in brackets ([ ]) is a one-character RE that matches any of the characters in that set. This means that [akm] matches either an "a", "k", or "m". A range of characters can be indicated with a dash, as in [a-z], which matches any lower-case letter. However, if the first character of the set is the caret (^), then the RE matches any character except those in the set. It does not match the empty string. For example: [^akm] matches any character except "a", "k", or "m". The caret loses its special meaning if it is not the first character of the set.

The following rules can be used to build a multicharacter RE:

  1. Parentheses (( )) group parts of regular expressions together into subexpressions that can be treated as a single unit. For example, (ha)+ matches one or more "had's.

  2. A one-character RE followed by an asterisk (*) matches zero or more occurrences of the RE. Hence, [a-z]* matches zero or more lower-case characters.

  3. A one-character RE followed by a plus (+) matches one or more occurrences of the RE. Hence, [a-z]+ matches one or more lower-case characters.

  4. A question mark (?) is an optional element. The preceding RE can occur zero or once in the string -- no more. For example, xy?z matches either xyz or xz.

  5. The concatenation of REs is a RE that matches the corresponding concatenation of strings. For example, [A-Z][a-z]* matches any capitalized word.

  6. The OR character ( | ) allows a choice between two regular expressions. For example, jell(y|ies) matches either "jelly" or "jellies".

  7. Braces ({ }) are reserved for future use.

All or part of the regular expression can be "anchored" to either the beginning or end of the string being searched:

  1. If the caret (^) is at the beginning of the (sub)expression, then the matched string must be at the beginning of the string being searched.

  2. If the dollar sign ($) is at the end of the (sub)expression, then the matched string must be at the end of the string being searched.

The most frequent problem with use of this class is in being able to specify a backslash character to be parsed. If you are attempting to parse a regular expression that contains backslashes, you must be aware that the C++ compiler and the regular expression constructor will both assume that any backslashes they see are intended to escape the following character. Thus, to specify a regular expression that exactly matches "a\a", you would have to create the regular expression using four backslashes as follows: the regular expression needs to see "a\\a", and for that to happen, the compiler would have to see "a\\\\a".

The backslashes marked with a ^ are an escape for the compiler, and the ones marked with | will thus be seen by the regular expression parser. At that point, the backslash marked 1 is an escape, and the one marked 2 will actually be put into the regular expression.

Similarly, if you really need to escape a character, such as a ".", you will have to pass two backslashes to the compiler:

Once again, the backslash marked ^ is an escape for the compiler, and the one marked with | will be seen by the regular expression constructor as an escape for the following ".".




Public Constructors

RWCRExpr(const char* pat);
RWCRExpr(const RWCString& pat);
RWCRExpr(const RWCRExpr& r);

Public Destructor


Assignment Operators

operator=(const RWCRExpr& r);
operator=(const char* pat);
operator=(const RWCString& pat);

Public Member Functions

index(const RWCString& str, size_t* len = NULL, 
      size_t start=0) const;
status() const;

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